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NSW still holding the Murray Darling Basin Plan back

Media Release  

February 14, 2023 

The Murray Darling Basin Authority has released a six-monthly report card on the progress of the Murray Darling Basin Plan, highlighting yet again that when it comes to the Basin Plan, NSW continues to have the hand brake on.  

The law requires all Water Resource Plans to have been approved by July 2019, yet NSW have only today resubmitted the critical documents. It is yet to be seen if these overdue NSW Water Resource Plans are sound enough to be accredited. 

Nature Conservation Council (NCC) Chief Executive Officer Jacqui Mumford says NSW had since 2012 to get twenty Water Resource Plans written by the 2019 deadline, but has dragged its feet while still taking the lion’s share of water from the Basin. 

“We’ve seen successive NSW Coalition Water Ministers duck and weave, avoiding their responsibilities to the rivers of the Murray Darling Basin, and are now almost four years late with their homework," said Ms Mumford.  

“For almost four years, there has been no way for the Commonwealth to determine if water extraction in NSW is over the legal limits.  

“NSW has the biggest contribution to make to the implementation of the Murray Darling Basin Plan, because we’ve been the biggest water users. The enormous wealth created for a privileged few by excessive water take has come at huge cost to First Nations communities and the environment.  

“The balance between industry and the environment when it comes to water sharing has been heavily skewed to favor industry for over a hundred years. Clawing back some water for the health of the rivers under the Basin Plan still falls a long way short of that elusive concept of balance.” said Ms Mumford. 

NCC is extremely concerned that NSW is actively working against the principles of the Basin Plan by issuing an environmentally unsustainable volume of floodplain harvesting entitlements.  

“NSW is driving water management backwards – instead of working with the Commonwealth and other states to return water to inland rivers, it’s handing out billions of litres of brand-new water entitlements to privileged floodplain harvesting irrigation corporations” said Ms Mumford.  

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